Highland Council Backs Prawn Campaign Fishing Monthly Published: 26 November, 2002
HIGHLAND Council has lent its support to the campaign to safeguard the nephrops (prawn) sector from the effects of the package of widespread cuts and closures being recommended by scientists to safeguard cod stocks throughout Europe.
A paper from George Hamilton, the Council’s fisheries development manager, has been sent to EC fisheries officials, highlighting that linking cod and prawn fisheries on the west coast would be a mistake that would have serious consequences for Highland fishing communities.
The total allowable catch for prawns on the west coast was set at 11,340 tonnes in 2001, a cut of 10% from previous years. Scientists from the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) recommended that nephrops fisheries should also be considered for closure. EC officials have not gone that far, but they are now recommending a further 5% cut, to reduce the by-catch of cod, haddock and whiting. Prawns are the most valuable shellfish caught and landed into Highland ports.
In 2000, £12.6m worth of prawns was landed in Mallaig, Ullapool, Lochinver, Kinlochbervie and Portree. When ancillary industries such as processing, transport and servicing are taken into account, a closure would be devastating for jobs, many of them in remote communities.
But according to George Hamilton the by-catch of cod and other whitefish species is minimal. “To date in 2002, four tonnes of cod has been landed, compared to 1,200 tonnes of prawns.”